Phantogram @ Wonder
Joined by Porcelain Raft
Live music – ephemeral, transformative – and by every means personalized by the evocation of memories and new sensations. At the end of good show a life has been lived. Complete 2000 with relationships done in by rhythmic highs or is it melodic lows. Nonetheless, the end result is nothing short of a profound existential experience that by all intensive purposes should take years to realize.
By the end of last night’s performance at The Wonder Ballroom it was clear the attendees had somehow changed. Possessed with a greater appreciation for life maybe. Consequently compelled to recreate what they had just felt upon listening to the stimulating sounds of Phantogram.
Porcelain Raft opened for Phantogram, and as such complemented well the night’s overall experience. A one-man project put on by Italian born Mauro Remiddi, Porcelain Raft seemed a natural progression for Remiddi as he has been honing his musical skills “playing indie pop in London, gypsy klezmer music with the traveling Berlin Youth Circus, piano in off-Broadway productions, and even performing in North Korea.” Last night’s performance showcased his proclivity for experimentation as he produced a myriad of synthesized sounds with the help of looping pedals, a plethora of effects pedals, and multi-functional keyboards. Take a listen to “Put Me To Sleep,” where in Remiddi exhibits his inclinations towards dream-pop and shoegaze.
Comprised of Sarah Barthel (vocals, keyboards) and Josh Carter (vocals, guitars), Phantogram would otherwise seem under equipped to produce such a capacious sound. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Employing the use of sound generators, effect pedals, synthesizers, beat machines and a sundry of otherwise inscrutable devices this dynamic duo created a diverse soundscape that evoked cerebral introspection at one point and visceral animation the next.
Hailing from Saratoga Springs, New York where they met in junior high, Barthel and Carter pursued various projects before returning home in 2007 dissatisfied, and no doubt disillusioned. In sharing an eclectic range of musical influences, both Barthel and Carter have created a sound that could be considered an amalgam of otherwise disparate genres. For instance, take a listen to “When I’m Small” off their first full-length album, Eyelid Movies, and one can’t help but notice a heavy hip-hop beat to which could be seen as stemming from an affinity for such beat conductors as Madlib and J Dilla.
Vocally, Barthel takes the reins. Upon hearing her ethereal, airy voice one immediately becomes enchanted not only by her pitch and timber but also by her unburdened sense of trust and personalization. Exemplary of this willingness to confide in listeners can be heard on “Let Me Go,” again off their first full-length album, Eyelid Movies.
Carter has gone on record as saying Phantogram sounds like “street beat, and psych pop.” What with “lots of rhythms, swirling guitars, spacey keyboards, echoes, and airy vocals” these classifications seem rather representative of a re-contextualized ‘electro’ experimentation to which artists such as David Bowie, Prince and Serge Gainsbourg pioneered years ago. However, in combining distinctively solemn vocals with dance inducing rhythms and melodies, Phantogram is nonetheless a step in a new direction.